"There are no TATTS here, Bert," he exclaimed, using one of the more simple of my childhood nicknames. "They're not COVERED in TATTS."
My father was in Prague at the time, no doubt spending my inheritance on clay Golems and absinthe. Aside from the castle, Karlov Most and the astronomical clock, the chief attraction of the Czech capital seemed to be ink-free skin.
|Now that would make a great design for a .... no, wait!|
It was something of coincidental timing.
You know that moment in The Simpsons when Ned Flanders, smothered by his neighbour's sudden affection, wakes in a sweat and exclaims "I hate Homer Simpson!"? I had one of those just days before my father skyped me from across the globe. There was no reason for it, I hadn't just been menaced by a gang of *insert controversial bikie gang here* - just a simple realisation: I don't like tattoos.
Now this doesn't mean I think they should be banned, or people shouldn't get them. I'm not advocating a tattoo-free nanny state (or even, for that matter, a tattoo-free nanny).
But personally, aesthetically - I don't like them.
It may be something I've inherited from my aforementioned father. He's spent his life in the merchant navy, yet has always had a strong aversion to tattoos. I don't think my sea-faring grandfather had one either; considering my Gran refused to allow him to even grow a beard, I daresay a big Polish eagle across his back was out of the question.
But family views aside, my prudishness when it comes to tattoos is mostly my own. There's no doubt tattoos have become much more mainstream than even 10 or 15 years ago. We seem to be at a tipping point - many employers will still demand tattoos be covered up in the workplace, but as tribal stripes peek out from under shirt sleeves, and bits of cursive text wind their way through collars up necks, how long before ink saturation has hit 50 per cent of the population or more?
So here are my top three reasons for disliking tattoos.
1. Future planning.
There's no doubt some tattoos are trends just as much as any fashion item. Designs on the small of a lady's back, tantalisingly visible between the top of her pants and the bottom of her shirt, were once all the rage. But their repositioning as "Tramp Stamps" or "Slag Tags" has seen them attract the same derision as "leggings as pants".
|So many butt-erflies...|
2. They make you look.... kinda ...dirty.
Again, a personal view. I find many tattoos make the person look like they've been attacked by a 3-year-old with a Sharpie. Up close perhaps you can see the individual designs, but I find the Gestalt image unappealing.
3. Putting it out there.
I feel like many tattoos are the more expensive and more permanent version of bumper stickers. I can have thoughts, dreams, visions, memories - without needing to sear them into my skin. But that works in reverse; those "My Family" stickers are quite possibly just the simpler version of David Beckham-style family name tattoos.
|And he has *such* a pretty face...|
I met Chris, aka @selga55, a few weeks ago, when he very kindly offered me a steam mop, free of charge. That's just the way Twitter works sometimes: one day you're asking for advice on floor-cleaning, the next you're picking up an as-new Bissell from (until then) a stranger.
I couldn't help but notice Chris' impressive set of tattoos, across his arms and legs. I didn't mention them at the time, because I'm not totally rude, and also, I didn't want to jeopardise attainment of the steam mop (I have quite dirty floors). But a few days ago I shot him an email, and he very kindly answered my questions about why a person might put so much stuff on their skin.
Chris was 42 when he got his first tattoo, Che Guevara's face, on his left shoulder. He has numerous others, including Japanese 17th century samurai on his left leg, and the legendary Koi on his right leg.
"I get more when I forget how much it hurts," he told me. "I have always strived for art over motif... I have a lot of dragons, and the Koi legend is about the carp that swims upstream, up into a waterfall and becomes a dragon."
For Chris, his tattoos are very personal, and while he admits they wouldn't be to everyone's taste, he did put a lot of thought into them. He likes the growing widespread acceptance of tattoos in the community, but wishes people would put more thought into their designs.
"My beef about a lot of the ‘art’ is people just wanting to get something and move on. I mean if I see one more set of poker machine cherries on someone’s foot I’ll scream!"
Chris also believes if you don't think carefully about your design, you could wind up with one off the shelf.
"When you don’t know what to get and the artist wants a quick buck = Southern Cross tattoo," he said.
I asked Chris if he regretted any of his tattoos.
"Not any I regret - I'm old enough to know better - but some I like more than others," he replied. Sometimes wish I had more of a plan for the arms but still, I'm not unhappy with results."
Now I'm interested in what you think. What are your experiences with tattoos? Have you had one you regret, or put thought into the art of it? And do you like how they look on others?